The Voices Of East Harlem

"Right On Be Free" 1972
Live show recorded at Sing Sing Prison.
The Voices Of East Harlem were formed in 1969 Harlem, New York City, early members were; Gerri Griffin (lead vocals), Monica Burress (lead vocals), Bernard Graham, Wayne Garfield, Jerome Mack, Elaine Clark, Cynthia Sessions, Kevin Griffin and Claudia Moore.

Their 1970 Electra album 'Right On Be Free' featured contributions from Ralph McDonald on congas and Richard Tee on keyboards. The recent CD release of this album contains more social aware stuff that they were probably frightened to put out at the time. In fact I'd say the best stuff was left off the album so buying the re-issue is a must! This song though was a gift from above for the Civil Rights movement and the Black Panthers, coming out while Angela Davis was also in the news fighting her a court case. Even I had the black fist logo on my disco speakers at this time!

The Full 80 min show
The Voices a mostly, 20-member ensemble whose ages ranged from 12 to 21 can be seen in this footage to be very keen to entertain and put the message over to the mainly black inmates. They next worked with producers Leroy Hutson and Curtis Mayfield on their recordings for the Just Sunshine Records label. The UK remembers them for Leroy Hutson's song/production 'Cashing In' from a 1973 album 'The Voices Of East Harlem', it was a crossover Northern soul hit and could be heard at UK clubs regularly. I thought I remembered DJ 'Pep, playing it but now I look back (thanks DK!!) it was Jerry Williams 'If You Ask Me'' that he launched, similar tempo!

Some fifteen years later also released from 'The Voices.." album was 'Wanted Dead Or Alive', on the Low Fat Vinyl label in 1988.

The footage of B.B. King that follows this in the full show is the best I've seen of him. His lyrics connect with the prison audience and they are with him on every line of some of his big songs. Joan Bias is also in this show and sings about 'Burning the place down' I'm surprised a riot didn't ensue! Thanks to Dave Krynski for finding this priceless clip on YouTube, now watched by over 25,000 people.

Details about the full show are found here:

Impressions with poet Clifton Davis

The Impressions - 'This Is My Country'
Live poetry with Clifton Davis from the black TV show 'Soul' in 1970.

The group were formed in Chicago in 1957 and originally known as the Roosters, this group comprised Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden , and brothers Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks. Mayfield and Butler first met in the choir of the Travelling Soul Spiritualists Church, from where they formed the Modern Jubilaires and Northern Jubilee Singers.

The two teenagers then drifted apart, and while Mayfield was involved in another group, the Alphatones, Butler joined Gooden and the Brooks brothers in the Roosters. Mayfield was subsequently installed as their guitarist. Dubbed the Impressions by their manager, the group's first single for Abner/Falcon, "For Your Precious Love", was a gorgeous ballad and a substantial hit, reaching number 11 in the U!S pop chart in June 1958. The label credit, which read "Jerry Butler And The Impressions", caused internal friction and the two sides split after one more release, "Come Back My Love". While Butler's solo career gradually prospered, that of his erstwhile colleagues floundered. He and Mayfield were later reconciled on Butler's 1960 single "He Will Break Your Heart', the success of which (and of other Mayfield-penned songs) rekindled the Impressions" career.

Signed to ABC-Paramount Records in 1961, they had a US number 20 hit with the haunting "Gypsy Woman". Subsequent releases were less well received until "It's All Right" (1963) soared to number 1 in the R&B chart and to number 4 in the pop chart. The group was now a trio of Mayfield, Gooden and Fred Cash, and their rhythmic harmonies were set against Johnny Pate's stylish arrangements. Magnificent Top 20 singles ? including "I'm So Proud", "Keep On Pushing", "You Must Believe Me" (all 1964) and "People Get Ready" (1965) ? showed how Mayfield was growing as an incisive composer, creating lyrical songs that were alternately poignant and dynamic. During this period the Impressions had what was to be their last US pop Top 10 hit, "Amen", which was featured in the Sidney Poitier movie Lilies Of The Field.

Mayfield then set up two short-lived record companies, Windy C in 1966, and Mayfield in 1967. However, it was the singer's third venture, Curtom Records, that proved most durable. In the meantime, the Impressions had emerged from a period when Motown Records had provided their prime influence. "You've Been Cheatin'" (1965) and "You Always Hurt Me" (1967), however good in themselves, lacked the subtlety of their predecessors, but represented a transition in Mayfield's musical perceptions. Statements that had previously been implicit were granted a much more open forum. "This Is My Country" (1968), "Mighty Mighty Spade And Whitey" (1969) and "Check Out Your Mind' (1970) were tougher, politically based performances, while his final album with the group, the quintessential Young Mods" Forgotten Story, set the framework for his solo work.

Willie Mitchell

Willie Mitchell - '20/75 & Hitch Hike'
If ever Memphis had a theme sound, then this guy created it! As a teenager in the mid-60's I would collect all his singles and albums and was never disappointed. Although most records were saxophone driven instrumentals he actually played the trumpet!

My favortite tracks are the Northern soul classic; "The Champion", "That Driving Beat", "Everything's Gonna Be Alright", "Up-Hard" and "Mercy". A mod school friend at the time, Steve, put me on to this guy and to this day I thank him!

It was later I picked up on all the people he produced; Veniece Starks, Don Bryant, Ann Peebles and later in the 70's his biggest success came with Al Green. 'Hoss' Allen put him on his Nashville TV show, "The Beat!!!" in 1966 but sadly he only mimes/plays along here, but is the only footage I can find of him.

Sadly Willie Mitchell died in January 2010 aged 81, but had been producing right up to the end - Thanks for the great music


Zulema - Maybe I'm Amazed 1972

Nice Northern tempo track, penned by Paul McCartney from her debut 1972 Sussex album titled 'Zulema'. Looking great in her African attire and with nice backing band, she plays the piano too!

This compliments the Save the Children footage of 'This Child Of Mine', that she also performs at the WNET TV Show 'Soul'. She was also part of the duo Zalmac with Al McDowell on the small TSOB (The Sound Of Brooklyn) label in 1982.

Zulema Discography:

Zulema Sussex SXBX 7015 (1972)
Ms. Z Sussex SRA 8029 (1973)
Zulema RCA APL 1-0819 (1974)
RSVP RCA APL 1-1152 (1975)
Suddenly There Was You RCA APL1- 1423 (1976)
Z-Licious LeJoint LEJ 17000 (1978)
Best Of (RCA Years) Ichiban CD (1996)

Save The Children Motown (1972)
Honey Baby, Honey Baby RCA (1975)

This Child Of Mine/Don't Be Afraid Sussex 242 (1972)
Telling The World Goodbye/Tree Sussex 504 (1973)
Wanna Be Where You Are/No Time Next Time RCA PB 10116 (1974)

Hail, Hail, Hail America/Standing In The Back Row of Your Heart RCA 10246 ('76)
Just Look What You've Done/(long version) RCA 10406 (1976)
Half Of Your Heart/What Kind Of Person Are You RCA 10541 (1976)
I Love You Baby/Pity For The Children RCA 10704 (1976)

Hungry For Love/Suddenly There Was You RCA 10815 (1976)
Change/Hanging To A Memory LeJoint 5N 34001 (also on 12") (1978)
I'm Not Dreaming/You Got Somthing For Me LeJoint 5N 34002 (also on 12")('78)
A Mother Cries/Inst. TSOB TS-303 (1981)

Black Heat

Black Heat - Street Of Tears - 1972

Black Heat was a 1970s funk band founded by King Raymond Green and discovered by Phillip Guilbeau. Their albums include Black Heat (with guest artist David "Fathead" Newman + shown in this clip), No Time To Burn and Keep On Runnin'.

The group had one hit single, "No Time to Burn", which reached #46 on the U.S. Billboard Black Singles chart. A CD re-issue of their first two albums was released by Label M in 2001 under the title, Declassified Grooves. They had recently appeared at a memorial concert for Joel Dorn their original producer at Atlantic Records. It was the first time they had reunited in over 34 years. Wikipedia

Johnell Gray - Keyboards, Vocals
Bradley Owens - Guitar, Vocals
Chip Jones - Bass Guitar,Vocals
King Raymond Green - Congas,Timbales,Harmonica and Vocals
Esco Cromer - Drums,Vocals
Ray Thompson - Woodswinds
Rodney Edwards - Trumpet
David 'Fathead' Newman - Saxophone

New Birth (Nite-Liters)

New Birth (Nite-Liters) You Don't Have To Be Alone

In 1971, Bullock discovered a group from Detroit, Michigan called Love, Peace & Happiness which featured former Marvelettes singer Ann Bogan and brothers Leslie and Melvin Wilson. Finding that they had the spark that was missing from the New Birth ensemble, he paired them with the Nite-Liters and original members of New Birth, Londee Loren, Bobby Downs and Alan Frye.

In 1972, the reorganized group (as a seventeen-piece ensemble) hit the R&B top ten with their cover of Bobby Womack and The Valentinos' "I Can Understand It", which paved the way for the band's future success. By the time the song hit the stores, however, Ann left to devote time to her family, leaving Londee Loren as the sole female member. Due to a brief dispute with their management company, their next hit, "Until It's Time for You to Go" featured, instead of the group members, future Supremes member Susaye Greene as lead vocalist.

In 1974, the group issued their hit album, It's Been a Long Time, which spawned the hits including the title track and their cover of the psychedelic single "Wildflower", which became a top ten hit in the UK singles chart. After the release of their sixth RCA album, Comin' From All Ends, the group split from RCA, Fuqua and their management company and signed with Buddah.

New Birth's Buddah debut, Blind Baby, featured the group's only number-one R&B single, a cover of the Jerry Butler classic, "Dream Merchant". After the release of the 1977 album, Behold The Mighty Army, the Wilson brothers split from the group following in-fighting and growing tensions in the group.

The group returned in 1979 James Baker, Tony Chruchill and Austin Lander introduce Jerry Bell as their new lead vocalist with Platinum City and in 1982 with the I'm Back album. Leslie Wilson had left the group to replace Jeffrey Osborne in LTD. Jerry Bell left the group in 1981 to become the lead vocalist for Motown's Dazz Band.
The Wilsons toured with a new ensemble as New Birth in 1994, and released a few albums under the new name in the decade since. Drummer Robin Russell released a solo CD entitled Drum Beats in 2004.

Since the group's initial split, their songs have been covered from the likes of Jamie Foxx, who sampled their cover of "Wildflower" for his 2005 hit, "Unpredictable". R&B group Something for the People sampled their "It's Been a Long Time" for their 1996 hit, "My Love is the Shhh". Rap artist Lil' Wayne sampled "You Don't Have to Be Alone" from their self-titled album in his song "La La". - Wikipedia

Nite-Liters (New Birth)

Nite-Liters - K-Jee (1972)
New Birth (originally The Nite-Liters) is an American funk and R&B band formed in Detroit, Michigan by former Motown songwriters and producers Vernon Bullock and Harvey Fuqua and music industry veteran Tony Churchill. The group is most notable for the hits "I Can Understand It", "It's Been a Long Time", "Wildflower" and "Dream Merchant" featured the Wilson brothers Melvin and Leslie, who sung lead on the group's most famed material

The history of the group starts with the instrumental outfit, The Nite-Liters which had originally been formed in 1963 in Louisville, Kentucky by Tony Churchill and Harvey Fuqua, and featured, in its heydey, besides Churchill on tenor sax and vibes, Charlie Hearndon on guitar, James Baker on keyboards, Robin Russell on drums, Robert "Lurch" Jackson on trumpet, Austin Lander on baritone sax, Leroy Taylor on bass, and, later, Carl McDaniel on guitar. (Earlier members included Johnny Graham, later of Earth, Wind & Fire).

Under this name the group had a few hits before the formation of New Birth proper. In 1969, Vernon Bullock had thought of creating an ensemble of groups for a touring company, and Harvey Fuqua and Tony Churchill soon took an interest. After discovering a male vocal group, The Mint Juleps, which featured Bobby Downs, Ron Coleman, Gary Young and an individual known as "Slim," and a female vocal group, known as The New Sound, which featured Londee Loren, Tanita Gaines, Janice Carter and Pam Swent, they brought them together with The Nite-Liters and additional vocalist, Alan Frye and called the newly formed ensemble New Birth. The band came together in 1970 with their self-titled debut on RCA. Their second album, Ain't No Big Thing, But It's Growing, yielded a minor hit with their cover of Perry Como's "It's Impossible", in 1971 -Wikipedia

Linda Hopkins

Linda Hopkins - It's My Belief (1972)

She was born December 14th. 1924 as Melinda Helen Matthews in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second child of the Reverend Fred Matthews, Sr. and Hazel Smith. She grew up in the section of New Orleans known by the locals as "Gert Town" or "Zion City" which border Xavier University. Hopkins is an American blues and gospel singer, and actress.

Known as "Lil Helen Matthews" as a child, she was discovered at the age of eleven by Mahalia Jackson when she persuaded Jackson to perform at a fundraiser at her home church, St. Mark's Baptist Church. Lil Helen opened the children's fundraising program with a rendition of Jackson's gospel hit, God Shall Wipe Your Tears Away. Jackson was so impressed by Lil Helen's determination and talent that she arranged for Lil Helen to join the Southern Harp Spiritual Singers in 1936. Hopkins remained with the group for a decade.

She first saw Bessie Smith perform Empty Bed Blues at The New Orleans Palace Theatre in 1936. Hopkins greatly admired Smith and later won critical plaudits for her rendition of Smith in the 1959 theatrical presentation Jazz Train.

Matthews left New Orleans in the 1950s, and, in 1951, began performing at Slim Jenkin's Night Club in the Oakland/Richmond area. There she met Johnny Otis and Little Esther Phillips who created her stage name, Linda Hopkins. In 1952, Hopkins toured Hawaii and Japan for two years which included a stint with Louis Armstrong at The Brown Derby in Honolulu. She recorded for the Crystalette, Forecast, Federal and Atco labels and often appeared at The Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

In 1960, Hopkins first toured Europe in the production Broadway Express, the restaged production of Jazz Train. She recorded "Shake a Hand" with Jackie Wilson on the Brunswick label, which is her sole hit single ranking 21 on the R&B chart. She also attended Stella Adler's Acting School in New York City.

During the 1970s, Hopkins performed in the Broadway musical, Purlie, and with Sammy Davis, Jr. for nine months. In addition, she performed at one of President Jimmy Carter's inaugural balls. In 1972 she was awarded a Tony and Drama Desk Award for her performance in Inner City Blues. She has recorded classic, traditional, and urban blues, and performed R&B and soul, jazz, and show tunes, all with distinction and style.

Hopkins starred in Me and Bessie, a one-woman show paying homage to blues singer Bessie Smith, conceived and written by Hopkins and Will Holt. The world premiere was in Washington, D.C. in 1974. After a run in Los Angeles it transferred to the Ambassador Theatre on Broadway. The critically acclaimed show ran for 13 months and 453 performances, and Hopkins was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

In 1985, Black And Blue, written by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli, premiered in Paris at The Théâtre Musical Paris. The musical revue opened on Broadway in 1989 and ran for 829 performances. Linda received a Tony nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical. Wild Women Blues, conceived by Hopkins and produced by Mel Howard, premiered in Berlin in 1997. In 1998 Hopkins celebrated 50 years in show business.
In October 2005, Hopkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (wikipedia)

Jr. Walker and The All Stars

What Does It Take (1988)

I've seen Jr. Walker live many times and this is the arangement of "What Does It Take" that he always performs live. I first recorded him at Barbarellas Club in Birmingham when we recorded an interview with him and taped the whole of his show on 'reel to reel'. Never thinking that video footage of him would turn up some 35 years later. He was a quiet speaking guy and very respectful to his fellow artistes and producers, Johnny Bristol in the case of this tune - I'm sure he's greatly missed.

Walker was born Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr. in Blytheville, Arkansas and grew up in South Bend, Indiana. His saxophone style was the anchor for the band's overall sound. The other original members of the group were drummer Tony Washington, guitarist Willie Woods, and keyboardist Vic Thomas.

His career started when he developed his own band at the age of 14, in the mid 1950s as the 'Jumping Jacks'. His longtime friend Billy Nix (drummer) started his own group the 'Rhythm Rockers.' Periodically Nix would sit in on Jumping Jack's shows, and Walker would sit in on the Rhythm Rockers shows.

Nix obtained a permanent gig at a local TV station in South Bend, Indiana, and asked Walker to join him and his keyboard player (Fred Patton) permanently. Shortly after, Nix would asked Willie Woods a local singer to perform with the group; shortly after Woods would learn how to play guitar also. When Nix got drafted into the United States Army, Walker convinced the band to move from South Bend to Battle Creek, Michigan. While performing in Benton Harbor, Walker found a drummer Tony Washington, to replace Nix. Eventually, Fred Patton (piano player) left the group, and Victor Thomas stepped in.

The original name the 'Rhythm Rockers' was changed to the 'All Stars'. Walker's squealing gutbucket style was inspired by jump blues and early R&B, particularly players like Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic, and Illinois Jacquet. The group was spotted by Johnny Bristol, and he recommended them to Harvey Fuqua, in 1961, who had his own record labels. Once the group started recording on the Harvey label, their name was changed to Junior Walker & the All Stars. When Fuqua's labels were taken over by Motown's Berry Gordy, Jr. Walker & The All Stars became members of the Motown Records family, recording for Motown's Soul imprint in 1961.

The members of the band changed after the acquisition of the Harvey label. The drummer, Tony Washington quit the group, and James Graves followed the group into the Motown family. Their first and signature hit was "Shotgun", written by Junior Walker and produced by Berry Gordy. "Shotgun" reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, aka as the Pop chart, and #1 on the R&B chart in 1965, and was followed by many other hits, such as "(I'm A) Road Runner", "Shake and Fingerpop" and covers of the Motown tracks, "Come See About Me" and "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)". In 1966, Graves left and was replaced by old cohort Billy "Stix" Nicks, and Walker's hits continued apace with tunes like "I'm a Road Runner" and "Pucker Up Buttercup."

In 1969 the group had another hit enter the top 5, "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)". A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release but radio station DJs made the track popular, forcing Motown to release it as a single, whereupon it reached #4 on the Pop chart and #1 on the R&B chart. From that time on Walker sang more on the records than earlier in their career. He landed several more R&B Top Ten hits over the next few years, with the last coming in 1972.

In 1979, Junior Walker went solo and was signed to Norman Whitfield's Whitfield Records label. He was not as successful as he had been with the All Stars in his Motown period. Walker also played the sax on the group Foreigner's "Urgent" in 1981. The solo was actually cobbled together from tapes that he had made with the band. He later recorded his own version of the Foreigner song. In 1983, Walker was re-signed with Motown.

Junior Walker died on November 23, 1995 in Battle Creek, Michigan of cancer at the age of 64. He had been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation that year. Drummer James Graves died in 1967 in a car accident, and guitarist Willie Woods in 1997 at age 60. Junior Walker was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Battle Creek, MI., under his birthname of Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr., as well as stage name. Jr. Walker's All Star Band is currently touring around the world with original members Tony Washington and Acklee King.

Walker's "Shotgun" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. - Wikipedia